As a grown man, there are very few things that bring a tear to my eye: Saying goodbye to family, triumph against adversity in sports movies, and catching myself in my zipper is pretty much the entire list.
Emotion in sports is a complicated thing and it often overrules rationality. Do you sometimes think that your own team’s fans are too hard on a player, a coach or the whole team? Go and spend five minutes on another team’s message board after a loss. Feel better now? Cheaper than therapy, right?
For me, football is normally a cocktail made up of; a shot of excitement, a dash disappointment and topped up with just enough moments of soaring elation to keep me coming back for more.
The 2018 Season/Hopes abound
Over the summer I was feeling pretty good about the upcoming season. On paper, the offense was looking good; a solid O-Line, new, creative coaches, and a load of weapons for Mitchell Trubisky who, just might, make a sophomore leap…
The Defense returned a lot of starters and, if he ever showed up, I loved the tape on Roquan Smith. I was a bit concerned about the Bears ability to rush the passer. Maybe Leonard Floyd would develop into the threat we expected him to be? Maybe Vic Fangio could work some magic and breathe life into Aaron Lynch? Isiah Irving shows potential? Or maybe Kylie Fitts would emerge another late-round hit for Ryan pace?
The day it all changed
Then it happened. I’d joked with a Raiders-fan buddy of mine that the Bears would trade for Khalil Mack and there, all over the internet, was the news that I’d dreamed of. Like many fans, I got straight to watching highlight reels. After what may have been many hours, I got to film from week 14 of the 2015 season. The Raiders were playing a 10-3 Denver Broncos team (who would go on to win the Super Bowl) at Mile High.
Mack had 5 sacks that day in a 15-12 defensive slug-fest. Late in the fourth quarter, he lined up across from Broncos left tackle, the 8-year NFL vet, Ryan Harris. Mack fired out of his 4-point his stance like a track athlete, ran right over the 6ft 5in, 300 lb Harris easily brushed aside a flapping, attempted-chip from (RB) Ronnie Hillman then exploded onto Brock Osweiler wrapping him up for a 9-yard loss.
That was the moment that I first shed a small tear over football.
Khalil Mack was a Chicago Bear. I knew in that instant that he was the man who could restore the city’s pride by re-establishing its reputation for defensive dominance. If his personal skillset wasn’t enough, he’d draw double teams away from the rest of the front 7 and would immediately improve the secondary as the ball would have to come out that much faster.
Since that moment, the 2018 season has been a rollercoaster.
From the soaring highs of the first half at Green Bay (the Offense’s opening 86 yd touchdown drive, the Defense’s sacks, knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game, and Mack’s interception TD). To the crushing lows of Codey Parkey’s missed field goal in Miami and the special teams meltdown against the Patriots which put the Bears back to the bottom of the NFC North.
Stats are boring
As you can’t accurately express emotion through stats, I’ve tried to capture feelings about this season so far in a graphic. Follow the Bears logo from left to right, through the highs and lows – remember this is not a prediction/projection, it’s merely a mood tracker.
For context, most reporters had the Bears at around .500 before the Mack trade. This increased to possibly pushing for a playoff spot when the trade was complete.
Preseason and first 3 games:
Next 4 games
You’ll see that the current level of optimism/hype after the Jets game is resting at just below “Playoffs” meaning that the current mood is that the Bears could, just maybe, get there.
Share your comments and we’ll look to revisit this as the season goes on.
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